Opponents Watch: Australia


Aussie fans will be hoping Harry Kewell can deliver them from German misery


Forget everything you saw from the Australians in their match against Germany. That is not who they are. I watched at least two trial matches in the run up to the Cup and the way they played against Germany does not reflect their true character.

First of all, Germany may be one of those teams whose offensive approach would be the perfect foil against the Aussies. Check that. The way the Germans played they would make light work of just about half the teams in the tournament!!! Ghana is not Germany. We play a much more deliberate and patient passing style and eschew the kinds of quick direct movements the Germans employ. And while our passing was good against Serbia I doubt we are going to have 91.7 percent passing accuracy as the Germans had against the Aussies. What that means is that we are probably not going to create as many clear cut chances as the Germans did in their match. That said, the Germans showed enough holes in defence to encourage the Ghanaian forwards. 

It was as though the Aussies came out to show the world that they belonged on the same field as the Germans. They don’t and quite frankly I was surprised at how open they were willing to be. Watching them before the tournament I thought they would play a bit more conservatively and try and counter-attack but in the match against Germany they didn’t quite do that and as a result they fell apart. 

The Aussies that I am familiar with play a fairly compact game with long balls to strikers like Joshua Kennedy and flank play their preferred mode of attack. Their flank play will be even more critical since their best player Tim Cahill is out for this match. They will miss his thrust down the middle. There is talk of Harry Kewell starting this match and he may well provide some of the width that was missing in their first game. I thought their height might trouble Ghana but after watching John Mensah and Isaac Vorsah play giant Nikola Zigic out of the match that should not be a problem.

The one thing I would say is Australian teams and their sports stars always seem to show heart. From tennis stars Leyton Hewitt to Pat Rafter to cricketers like Shane Warne, they never quit. You have to beat them. This will be especially so after losing so badly to the Germans.

Ultimately though, I am hoping all this analysis is pointless. If the fans that showed up in Pretoria show up in Rustenberg and are reinforced by the fans that have recently been airlifted from Ghana, and we all do our cheering best, the atmosphere should be able to lift the players to a win. I know fans don’t play football but the energy for our first match was such that if you were a player and you had any doubts before the match, the support took over. Dede Ayew testifies to that.

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